Second-generation Nationwide Series driver Chase Elliott has turned heads across the garage over the course of the last two weeks, as the eighteen-year-old has picked up his first two Nationwide victories in consecutive races in a pair of impressive wins at Texas and Darlington that should have the NASCAR community ecstatic about the youngster’s future in the sport.
Elliott, who pilots the #9 NAPA Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, has the makings of quickly becoming the next hero in auto racing thanks in part to several different factors.
One of the most prominent features favoring Chase is his family’s noted history of success in NASCAR. Chase’s father Bill is a legend in the racing business, having won 44 races at the Cup Series level along with being elected NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver sixteen times and taking home the Cup championship back in 1988. Along with “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” is Chase’s uncle Ernie Elliott, an engine builder that was an integral part of Bill’s sucess for the better part of his auto racing career.
Chase Elliott’s recognizable name in NASCAR circles means an already-established fan base that is definitely proving helpful in building his racing career, but the Hendrick Motorsports development driver is also aided with his Dawsonville, Georgia roots.
Made famous in the NASCAR world during Bill’s success, it is the fact that Chase is a small-town Southerner that means wonders in a sport that eventually expanded outside the southeast region of the United States yet still has the most fan support there. Drivers from southern states such as the Burtons (South Hampton, Virginia) Sterling Marlin (Columbia, Tennessee), the Allisons (Hueytown, Alabama), the Waltrips (Franklin, Tennessee), the Pettys (Level Cross, North Carolina) and the Earnhardts (Kannapolis, North Carolina) were all considerably popular in their time because of both their success on the track coupled with their reliability to the fans who came from small rural towns just like them.
The presence of drivers from states like California (Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick) and Indianapolis (Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart) has certainly helped NASCAR’s efforts to expand their target audience throughout the United States, but that’s not to say that the efforts and success of a Georgia kid will not aid NASCAR, especially come Labor Day weekend when Atlanta Motor Speedway comes up on the schedule.
Auto racing’s popularity has taken a definite dive over the last four or five seasons for what could be a multitude or reasons, but NASCAR should be incredibly excited about what Chase Elliott can bring to his sport. Considering that in Elliott is a young rookie driving for the most popular driver in motor sports while sporting his father’s famous number, it’s reason enough to believe that he has the capability of taking the circuit by storm just on potential alone.
Then take into account that with just seven races under his belt this high school senior is already pulling off victories over Cup regulars like Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick by making moves that are often attributed to a veteran presence, and it’s readily apparent that Chase Elliott is a rising star who will soon call the Cup Series home and do his part to spark some much-needed interest back into the racing community.